Driving Under The Influence

Convictions for Driving Under the Influence can have serious and life-altering consequences from license suspension to fines to jail time. Some convictions can even send you to prison and affect your rights for the rest of your life. To make matters worse, you have to contend with, not one, but two government entities…..both the courts and the DMV! Being charged with a criminal offense in California is a dangerous situation which requires experienced legal representation and support.

You need an attorney who is experience with DUI, possesses negotiation & litigation abilities and has a good reputation with California judges. This single choice will DIRECTLY affect the outcome of your case. I am dedicated to providing the best DUI Defense possible and I take very seriously the fact that your life is on the line. As a former prosecutor, I have handled hundreds of DUI cases and I understand the prosecutor’s tactics and where their weaknesses lie. Let me put my experience with DUI’s to work for you.

If you have a toothache, you go to the dentist…if you have a heart condition, you go to a heart specialist…and if you have a DUI in Bakersfield, you call Steven L. Bynum, Attorney at Law!


What Should I Do if I’m Pulled Over For a DUI?

Protecting yourself starts from the moment you are pulled over by the police. The law enforcement officer will start collecting evidence even before they pull you over. Your attitude and behavior will have a great impact on potential charges made against you.


When the police officer has you on the side of the road is not the place to argue with the officer. The place to argue your legal battle is in court. Here is some advice when dealing with police officers if you have some alcohol in your system:

Keep Calm and Remain Silent: Remember that you always have the right to remain silent. Politely refuse to answer any questions as anything that you say WILL be used against you during the investigation.

Be Respectful: Being pulled over can be nerve-wracking, but remember that this is a routine process for the police. Remember your rights during this situation and cooperate without putting yourself in precarious circumstances. Ensure that you are calm, respectful, and polite. If the officer does not treat you similarly, this is best handled by your attorney, later, in court.

Do Not Perform the Field Sobriety Tests: Respectfully decline to perform field sobriety tests. These tests are optional and the results of the test will only hurt your case. Furthermore, sobriety tests are often unreliable even when you are sober.

Blood Test at the Hospital: In the State of California, you are required to take a breath test or a blood test if arrested for DUI due to the “Implied Consent” which took effect when you registered for a driver’s license. You should have a choice between a breath or blood test. DO NOT TAKE A BREATH TEST. ASK FOR A BLOOD TEST! Blood tests are typically taken at the Hospital and, in any event, should be administered by a technician and not by an untrained police officer.

You may still be arrested if you follow these steps. However, you have already started protecting your self which allows your attorney to be more effective.


What Should I do if I get Arrested for DUI?

Being arrested can change your life in a blink of an eye. How you handle yourself in the situation can significantly affect the severity of your legal issues which will affect your ability to get your life back.

First, keep calm and quiet. It is tough to stop yourself from explaining your side, especially if you want to prove your innocence. You are not required to share information to the police officer other than your name. The officers will attempt to gather as much information from you.

Second, Invoke your Miranda Rights. The Miranda decision outlines the rights you have when being arrested. You first, and most important right, under Miranda is the right to remain silent. Invoking the Miranda right to remain silent keeps you from telling the police anything that may hurt you later. Additionally, your Miranda rights will protect you from being forced to disclose information that may put you in a dangerous situation. Any information gathered WILL be used against you during your criminal trial.

After hearing you have been read your Miranda rights, politely tell the police officers the following phrase,

“I wish to invoke my right to remain silent. I would like to speak to my attorney.”

It is important that you say it exactly this way to prevent further charges like resisting arrest or obstruction.

Remember, the police officers can legally lie to you. They can apply various strategies such as misleading you into talking and into allowing them to perform a search of your property. Do not consent to any search of your vehicle or home without speaking with your attorney. This will prevent police access to your home without the appropriate warrant.


What Should I Expect During the Court Process?

There are several steps to a DUI which can make it overwhelming and confusing. The basic steps of a DUI case are;

Investigation: Involves gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses to piece together the event surrounding the possible crime. You may be questioned and even search your property. Even at this early stage, you will benefit from the support of an experienced attorney. An attorney can help you prepare, show you how to conduct yourself, coach you on which questions to answer, and explain your rights during the investigation.

Arrests and Charges: If the investigation points to your guilt, then you may be arrested. At this point, the police can conduct a search without a warrant. However, they need probable cause to charge you with a crime.

Arraignment: This is your first chance to appear in court where you will be read your charges and explained your rights. You can enter a plea which will be either not guilty, guilty, or no contest. It is important to consult with your attorney to understand the pros and cons of each plea before making any decisions.

Bail: Bail may be addressed during your arraignment or on a separate hearing. The judge may release you without bail, set bail, or deny bail.

Pretrial: During this step, your defense attorney and the prosecution will build their respective cases. They may file motions to address various legal issues including any of your rights which were violated during the search or investigation. Your lawyer may also challenge any evidence against you.

Trial: Each side will present relevant evidence, testimony, and arguments to a judge or a jury. The prosecutor should prove your guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. You should be backed by an experienced attorney to give you a fighting chance.

Sentencing: This happens on a separate hearing where the judge will hear recommendations from prosecution and your defense lawyer about the appropriate sentence.

Appeals: When found guilty, you still have the right to appeal the verdict. At this step, you will need the support of an aggressive defense attorney to fight for you. You can either appeal due to errors during the process or the lack of evidence to support the verdict.


What are the DUI Laws in California and what are the Penalties?

You may be charged with DUI in California if your circumstances fall under the following conditions:

  1. Driving under 21 years old and consuming alcohol, cough syrup, or prescription drug.
  2. You are driving under 21 years old with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .01 or higher.
  3. You are driving under 21 years old with unsealed liquor, beer, or wine while alone.
  4. You are driving under 18 years old with any level of BAC.
  5. You are driving a commercial vehicle with a BAC of .04 or higher.
  6. Any intoxicated driver with a BAC of .08 or higher.
  7. A repeat DUI offender with a BAC of .01 or higher.
  8. You are refusing a blood alcohol content test.

Most do not know that when you are charged with two crimes during these circumstances: DUI and Driving with Excessive BAC. Having these two charges are serious consequences and difficulty to fight.

There are various types of criminal charge for DUI in California and each charge comes with specific penalties.

DUI, No Priors, VC 23152 (a) & VC 23152 (b)

The possible penalties for DUI with no priors are:

  1. Fines of up to $2133.00
  2. Three to nine months of DUI Program
  3. One-Time Mother’s Against Drug Driving (MADD) and Victims Impact Panel (VIP)
  4. Public Works Service (PWS) if BAC is higher than .15
  5. Watson Admonition
  6. Suspension of driver’s license
  7. Up to five years probation
  8. Criminal and bad driving records


DUI, Prior within 10 Years, VC 23152 (a) & VC 23152 (b)

Any conviction within the last 10 years is considered a “prior” DUI conviction. Possible fines are:

  1. Fines of up to $2635.00
  2. At least 96 hours in custody depending on the additional DUIs
  3. DUI Program for 18 months
  4. One-Time Mother’s Against Drug Driving (MADD) and Victims Impact Panel (VIP)
  5. Suspension of driver’s license
  6. Public Works Service (PWS) if BAC is higher than .15 (additional 5 days on the total from the BAC enhancement)
  7. Watson Admonition
  8. Up to five years probation
  9. Installation and use of Ignition Interlock Device (IID)
  10. Criminal and bad driving records


DUI, Under Influence of Illicit Drugs, No Priors, VC 23152(f)

The possible penalties for DUI of drugs are:

  1. Fines of up to $2133.00
  2. DUI program for three months
  3. Mother’s Against Drug Driving (MADD) and Victims Impact Panel (VIP)
  4. Suspension of driver’s license
  5. Up to five years probation
  6. Installation and use of Ignition Interlock Device (IID)
  7. Criminal and bad driving records


Wet-Reckless, VC 23103 per VC 23103.5

A Wet-Reckless is a lesser included offense of a DUI. Often a plea-bargained offense when the accused has a BAC of .08 or lower required under CA Vehicle Code 23152(b). The possible penalties are:

  1. Fines of up to $1321.00
  2. DUI Program from 12 hours to three months
  3. Mother’s Against Drug Driving (MADD) and Victims Impact Panel (VIP)
  4. Up to five years probation
  5. Criminal and bad driving records


Dry (Regular) Reckless, VC 23103

A Dry-Reckless is a lesser included offense of a DUI. Often a plea-bargained offense when the accused has a BAC under .08 required for a DUI under CA Vehicle Code 23152(b). The possible penalties are:

  1. Fines of up to $983.00
  2. Up to three years probation
  3. Criminal and bad driving records


Drinking Alcohol in a Motor Vehicle, VC 23221

The possible penalties for drinking alcohol in a motor vehicle are:

  1. Fines of up to $250 for those 21 and older
  2. Fines of up to $1000.00
  3. One-year license suspension if under 21-years old


DUI Murder (PC 187) a.k.a. Watson Murder

A Watson Murder is charged when the prosecutor proves that the defendant acted with “Implied Malice” which involves three facts:

  1. An intentional act resulting in someone’s death
  2. Natural consequences of the act endangering human life
  3. Knowingly acted with a conscious disregard of that danger

The possible penalties for a Watson Murder are:

  1. Up to 15 years to life in state prison
  2. Fines of up to $10,000.00
  3. A “strike” on your criminal record (California’s Three Strikes Law)
  4. Additional and consecutive three years to the sentence if a surviving victim suffers great bodily injury (GBI)
  5. Additional consecutive one year to the sentence for each injured person (up to three years)

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